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Sales & Marketing

25 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

What’s the most effective kind of marketing email you can send? According to Optimove research on more than 1 million email campaigns, birthday emails get the highest response rate compared to other customer communications.

 

“Whether the consumers received coupons, free delivery, a gift or any other incentive as a part of their birthday campaign, they all turned out to be highly effective,” Optimove reports.

 

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One reason birthday emails may be so effective is because customers who receive them have already purchased from the business. According to a report by Belly, 58 percent of people willopen emails from companies they’ve purchased from previously. Since the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent, the added incentive of a birthday offer can easily tip the scales.

 

Of course, birthdays only come once a year — and you’d like your customers to buy from you more often. What other email tactics can you use to turn new customers into repeat customers, and keep your loyal customers coming back? Here are 7 email marketing ideas to build customer loyalty.

 

1. Make them feel welcome. When a customer signs up for emails, send a welcome email thanking them for signing up and helping them get the most from your business. For example, if you have an e-commerce business, your welcome email could tell customers to check out the “flash sale” section of your site where new products go on sale every Friday at noon.

 

     Related Content: The Importance of Timing Your Promotions

 

2. Go beyond birthdays. How about sending emails on your customers’ anniversaries (either their own wedding anniversaries or the day they began doing business with you)? Or build loyalty with offers on relevant holidays. For example, a Pilates studio could send customers emails in April encouraging them to get in shape for summer with a special “unlimited visits” offer in May.

 

3. Send relevant emails. Some 86 percent of consumers say email personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions. Segment email subscribers based on factors such as previous purchases, pages they visited on your website, how frequently or recently they buy from you. The more targeted your emails, the more effective they’ll be. (After all, you want customers to stay “loyal” to your email list, too.)

 

4. Integrate email with direct mail. Using both channels can result in a 35 percent lift in sales compared to using just one or the other. Try using direct mail to emphasize a marketing message, surprise the customer, or deliver a special offer (like that birthday greeting). Make sure your direct mail piece reflects the same branding, look and feel as your email messages.

 

5. Ask their opinions. Don’t overload customers with a survey every time they make a purchase. Do periodically email targeted surveys to your best customers. Because they have a vested interest in your business, they’re more likely to respond. Let them know they’re receiving this survey because you value their opinion as loyal customers. You can also offer a reward for completing the survey, such as loyalty points or a discount on their next purchase.

 

     Related Content: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

6. Treat them like VIPs. Does it bother you when a company you patronize regularly offers special deals … but only for first-time customers? Don’t neglect your loyal customers when it comes to special treatment. Offering early access to a sale or to new products or services will inspire many recipients to open and act on your email.

 

     Related Content: The Small Business Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs

 

7. Keep them engaged in your loyalty program. If you have a customer loyalty program, use email to communicate with members about their status in the program, any special offers or events for members, or upcoming expiration dates for their points or rewards. Feature products you know they’ll be interested in or rewards that they have enough points to redeem.

 

Crafting emails for your loyal customers as carefully as you do for your new ones, helps you maintain their loyal fan status.

 

      Related Content: The Surprising Impact of Email Marketing and how to Maximize its Effect

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Who are “Affluencers” and why should small business owners care? The most recent Ipsos Affluent Survey has identified a subgroup of affluent consumers who have outsized influence on others’ purchasing decisions.

 

Dubbed Affluencers (a combination of affluent and influencer), these consumers have huge potential to positively affect how others perceive your brand.

 

Let’s learn who the Affluencers are, what purchases they influence, and how a small business can influence them.

 

Who are the Affluencers?

  • Ipsos defines “affluent” consumers as adults with $125,000+ in annual household income (the top 16 percent of American households).

  • The median age of affluents is 46 and their median household income is $178,200.

  • A whopping 71 percent of affluent consumers are Affluencers.

  • Younger people are more likely to be affluencers: 81 percent of millennial affluents, 70 percent of Generation X affluents, 64 percent of baby boomer affluents and 57 percent of senior affluents are Affluencers.

  • The face of affluent consumers is increasingly diverse. More than one-fourth of affluents are nonwhite; 17 percent speak another language at home; and 6 percent identify as LGBT.

 

What do Affluencers influence?

Affluent consumers have long driven trends in luxury and high-end products, but the influence of Affluencers goes beyond luxury to be felt in nearly every category. They spend more than non-affluent consumers and affluent consumers impact the following areas:

  • Alcoholic beverages

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  • Art and collectibles
  • Vehicles
  • Boating
  • Children's apparel/accessories
  • Computers, electronics and home entertainment
  • Home decorating/remodeling
  • Leisure/entertainment/dining out
  • Men's apparel and accessories
  • Insurance
  • Personal care and wellness
  • Skincare, cosmetics and fragrance
  • Sports/athletic equipment
  • Travel
  • Watches and jewelry
  • Women's apparel and accessories

 

Why are Affluencers so influential?

Affluencers wield influence because:

  • They make a disproportionate amount of purchases.
  • They’re trendsetters. Affluencers are early adopters of everything, from technology and fitness trends to restaurants and obscure travel destinations.
  • They’re a source of advice for friends and family considering purchases. Nearly all Affluencers (97) say people “often” ask them for purchasing advice, and half influence others’ shopping and purchasing behavior in five or more categories.

 

How can you influence the Affluencers?

Affluencers are a powerful target market for businesses to leverage, Ipsos notes. Seven in 10 U.S. marketers say influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2018, and 89 percent of survey respondents believe influencer marketing can positively impact how people feel about a brand.

 

Influencer marketing pays off. On average, businesses generate $6.50 in revenue for each $1 spent on influencer marketing, Business2Community reports.

So how can you reach Affluencers? Think media. The average Affluencer consumes far more media than non-affluents or affluents—their readership of both print and digital publications increased over 9 percent from the prior survey.

 

What’s surprising is the strong reach of traditional media for the Affluencers. TV is their No. 1 media source, followed by the web, mobile apps, printed magazines/newspapers, social media, traditional radio, digital magazines/newspapers, and podcasts. For comparison, 97 percent watch TV, 77percent listen to radio, 72 percent use social media, 48 percent read digital editions and 15 percent listen to podcasts.

 

In addition, 26 percent of Affluencers “like” brands/products on social media, primarily because:

  • It’s something they want to buy soon or already use
  • It’s something they want updates/information about

 

Tips to influence the Affluencers:

  • Reach out to Affluencers via the media they prefer. This will differ based on what you’re selling and your target Affluencer niche (technology vs. travel, boomers vs. millennials).
  • Share useful information that helps them assess a possible purchase. Affluencers do a lot of research before buying.
  • Appeal to their desires to be “the first” to have the coolest, newest thing.
  • Once they’ve purchased from you, maintain an ongoing relationship and collect as much data as you can.
  • Harness their power as referral sources to get new customers.
  • Enlist them to help promote your brand with online reviews or social media mentions.

 

Want to dig deeper into data on the Affluencers? Check out the full presentation.

 

Related Content: The Dos and Don’ts of Connecting with Influencers Online

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Summer is the season for family vacations, backyard barbecues and days at the beach. For a small business, it can also be a profitable season. With summer underway, how is your business doing at capturing customers’ summer dollars? Here are some creative midsummer marketing ideas to boost your business’s sales.

 

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  • On a scorching hot day, attract passersby into your business by promoting your air conditioning. Put up a sign saying, “Come in and cool off!”
  • Give away ice-cold lemonade or bottled water outside your business, along with a coupon for 10

 

Get Outdoors

  • Have a company picnic for your customers at a local park, lake or beach.
  • Put up a tent in the parking lot; grill hot dogs and hamburgers and scoop ice cream for customers.
  • Have employees wear sandwich boards, twirl signs or hand out coupons on busy street corners.

 

Hit the Road

  • Choose a tradeshow or conference relevant to your business. Make it a mini-vacation by building in a bit of sightseeing before or after the event.
  • Take a road trip to visit key clients. Many B2B companies’ schedules slow down in the summer, so your customers will be less frazzled and your meetings more productive.

 

Team Up

  • Get together with your Chamber of Commerce or other local business owners to plan a sidewalk sale you can all participate in. Put tables outside the stores selling small items, and keep your door open to attract customers inside.
  • Put together a monthly “First Fridays” or “Second Saturdays” event featuring musicians, face painting, and refreshments in your business district to attract customers one evening a month.

 

Join the Crowd

  • Find a local community event your target customers attend, like a fun run, classic car show or music festival. Sell products at a booth there or give away free samples, along with a coupon to get recipients into your business later.
  • If you don’t have the bandwidth to have a physical presence at the event, become a sponsor to get your businesses’ name in front of the crowds.
  • Farmers markets are especially popular in the summertime, and can be a great place to sell products or promote your services to locals.

 

Be a Good Sport

  • Take your best customers out to a baseball game, surf competition, volleyball tournament or whatever summer sport is hot in your area.
  • Put on a golf or tennis tournament for clients at the local links or country club.

 

Get Social

  • Get customers to engage with your business on social media. Have employees share their vacation photos and ask customers to do the same.
  • Give away company T-shirts or baseball caps with your logo and offer a prize for the customer who posts a picture of them wearing it in the most exotic vacation locale.
  • Hold a contest or drawing to give away summer-related products or services, like beach toys from your toy store or a summer spruce up at your hair salon.

 

Share Summer Content

  • Summer-ize your content marketing with seasonal information relevant to your customers. That could be serious stuff like pool safety tips for children, or fun stuff like 10 top nail polish colors for summer pedicures.

 

Heat Up Your Promo Products

  • Invest in fun summer promotional products, like beach towels, sunglasses, Koozies®, coolers or beach balls.
  • At an outdoor event, give away promo products to cool customers down, like fans, visors or spray bottles with your logo.

 

Help Customers Enjoy the Summer

  • If you own a service business, put together packages that help your customers get the most out of summer. An auto repair shop could offer a “pre-road trip inspection” special to get cars vacation-ready. A yoga studio could hold special “Mommy and me” classes.

 

Summer is short. Don’t waste your chance to make the most of this special season.

 

Related Content:

8 Stops to Prepare Your Business for Summer Tourists

5 Simple Steps for Giving Your Team Time Off This Summer

Top Hacks to Make your Store Profit from Summer Tourists

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Since the first photo with the hashtag #selfie posted to Instagram in 2011, selfies have taken over the world.

 

According to one survey, 30 percent of photos taken by people between ages 18 and 24 are selfies. Why not celebrate—and market your business at the same time—by launching a grassroots social media selfie campaign for National Selfie Day on June 21?

 

For a small business owner, sharing selfies can be a way of promoting your business’s authenticity. Showing customers and prospective customers the faces behind the business demonstrates you’re not a faceless corporation—you’re a real person.

 

Social Selfie Suggestions

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A social media selfie campaign works best if you have a lot of customers on Facebook or Instagram, the two social platforms where selfies are popular. You can either focus on the platform where your target customers spend the most time, or create one campaign for each platform.

 

Have a specific goal in mind for your National Selfie Day campaign. Do you want to build awareness of a new product or service? Do you want to get people to visit your location? Do you want to promote a sale and spark purchases? Set a measurable goal and figure out how National Selfie Day can help you reach it.

 

    Related Content: The Social Media Time Suck: How to Pick Your Platforms

 

You don’t need a physical location to market National Selfie Day, but if you do have one, make it “selfie-worthy.” Paint a wall inside your store, restaurant, salon, etc. with a backdrop that inspires customers to take selfies. Set up a selfie station: If you own a toy store, paint a wall with a circus theme and put out props like clown noses, crazy wigs or top hats for kids to pose in. Want to really go crazy? Make your entire location selfie-worthy (look up images of the Museum of Ice Cream for inspiration).

 

To promote your social campaign, create your own hashtag and make sure customers use it (along with #NationalSelfieDay) when submitting selfies. This way, their selfies show up not only on their Facebook or Instagram pages, but also on yours.

 

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask customers to post a selfie holding/wearing/using something they bought from your business.
  • National Selfie Day falls on the first day of summer, so ask for selfies doing something summery, like grilling, sunning or camping.
  • Do you own a hair salon or other beauty business? Ask customers to post a selfie showing why they need a new haircut or a makeover.
  • Own a bar or restaurant? Ask customers to post selfies digging into their favorite menu item or toasting with their favorite beverage.

 

Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

What's My Motivation?

 

Some customers will post selfies just for the fun of it, but others need incentive. Here are some rewards to offer:

  • Something free: If hair salon clients post selfies of their new ‘do, give them a free sample-size hair-care product. If diners post selfies eating at your restaurant, provide a free appetizer.
  • Contest prize: Contests can exponentially increase your selfie campaign’s reach. Ask your social media followers to vote for the winner, and watch the entrants spread the word to their friends in an attempt to win. Make the contest prize something that gets the winner back to your business, like a $100 store gift card, a day of pampering at your spa, or a catered event from your restaurant.
  • Giving to a cause: Tie your social selfie campaign into a charitable cause that your business supports. Own a pet grooming business? Ask for selfies of people with their pups and donate $1 per selfie to an organization that helps abused animals.

 

     Related Content: A First Step for Small Businesses Wanting to Support a Social Cause

 

For more ideas for using selfies in your marketing, search for posts with the hashtags #selfie or #NationalSelfieDay, or search for “selfie booth” or “selfie station” online. With a bit of creativity, you can make your National Selfie Day social media campaign a success—and get to know your customers a little better in the bargain.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Has your business’s social media presence become ho-hum?  Are you fresh out of ideas for creative photos or inspiring images? Then try going live with a digital event.

 

There are a wide variety of online events you can take part in, from Tweet Chats (or Twitter Chats) to Facebook Live or Instagram Live streaming videos. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of digital events for a small business, give you an overview of digital event options, and share some ideas for digital events you can host.

 

What are Digital Events?

 

A digital event is any online broadcast usually on social media—that takes place live. Among the most popular formats are Facebook Live videos, Twitter live videos and Instagram live videos.  You can also participate in or host Tweet Chats or Reddit forums, which are real-time online chats on a specific topic.

Live digital events are becoming more and more popular. According to TechCrunch, one-fifth of videos shared on Facebook are now live.

 

Why Should a Business Participate in Digital Events?66061204_s.jpg

 

Live digital events have many benefits for a small business. Like all kinds of social media marketing, they help promote products or services, build awareness of your business and gain a reputation for thought leadership. However, a live digital event has unique advantages:

 

  • It can generate a sense of excitement and anticipation
  • It helps to foster a community with your customers and followers
  • It enables real-time interaction with customers
  • It offers a sense of authenticity because it’s live
  • You get instant responses and feedback from viewers

 

Ideas for Digital Events

 

A Tweet Chat or Reddit forum is essentially a Q&A session. For example, you could invite an industry expert to answer questions, or answer questions yourself about your business, product or service. You’ll need a moderator for the event to field questions and manage the flow of interactions (if you’re the one answering the questions, you won’t be able to pay attention to incoming questions at the same time).

 

Here are some ideas for live videos:

 

  • Go behind the scenes at your business. Give viewers a tour of your brewery or introduce them to your team.
  • Hold a demonstration showing viewers how to use one of your products.
  • Interview an industry expert on a topic of interest to your customers.
  • Live stream an event at your business, like a grand opening for a new location or a fundraiser for a local charity.
  • Live stream an event, conference or tradeshow you’re attending. If you’re speaking at an event or moderating a panel, live stream it.
  • Promote a sale at your business. Take viewers through your store showing off the hottest selling items or biggest promotional discounts.

 

Tips for Digital Event Success

 

  • Promote your event in advance. Use email marketing, social media and your business website to spread the word and create anticipation.
  • Create a hashtag for your event so people can find it. If you’re hosting a Tweet Chat, you’ll need a unique hashtag to tweet or respond to tweets in the chat.
  • Plan ahead. Your event is live, but don’t try to wing it. Facebook recommends Facebook Live videos be a minimum of 10 minutes long—a long time to talk if you don’t have some idea what you’re going to say. Plan a few topics to bring up or questions to get the ball rolling.
  • Create a series. For example, hold a Tweet Chat with an industry expert once a month, or live stream a demo of the best-selling products from your store every week. (If you plan to do a series, remind viewers at the end of your video to “follow” you for notifications of future live videos.)
  • Engage with viewers. Digital events let you can see exactly how customers are responding in real time. Learn from their questions and comments, and ask some questions of your own.

 

Once your digital event is over, assess its success, (measure participation, use of hashtags, etc.) and use what you learned to make your next digital event even more effective.

 

Related Content:

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

 

Online reviews have become a guiding force in how consumers and B2B buyers alike decide where to buy. A whopping 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and consumers spend an average of 31 percent more with companies that have excellent online reviews.

 

The number of online reviews your business has even factors into your business’s search engine results position on Google. With so much importance attached to reviews, how can you get more good ones? Here are some tips for boosting your star rating—and for dealing with negative reviews.

 

Do’s and Don’ts to Get More Good Reviews

  • Do provide great service. Yes, it’s obvious, but too often forgotten: The only sustainable way to get more positive reviews is to offer outstanding products and services.
  • Don’t bribe customers for reviews. Incentivizing reviews by offering a discount or reward in return violates many review sites’ terms of service, including Yelp’s. (Check the terms of service on each review site to be sure what their rules are.) 26497034_s.jpg
  • Do ask customers to review your business. The best way to do that is in person. When you know a customer is happy with your business, say something like, “We'd love it if you’d review us on Yelp.” Here are some other ideas to encourage reviews:
      • If you have a brick-and-mortar location, post signage indicating which review site/s you’re on.
      • Print “Review us on [SITE]” on your receipts or invoices.
      • Include requests for reviews in your email newsletters and other email marketing materials.
      • Link to your review listing at the end of your email signature.
  • Don’t assume you’re “done.” Consumers read an average of seven reviews before they feel confident trusting a business. That doesn’t mean you can get seven reviews and then stop. Keep a steady stream of new reviews coming to keep your listing fresh.
  • Do make it easy for customers to review your business. Don’t make customers search all over the internet for your review listings. Start by directing them to your review site of choice, whether that’s HomeAdvisor, Yelp or Google.  (Of course, you want reviews on more than one site, but if you have 50 reviews on Yelp and only two on Google, you’ll want to focus on Google reviews for a while.) Put clickable icons on your website and in any digital communication with customers, so all they have to do is click to go directly to your review listing and start writing.

 

Handling Negative Reviews: Do’s and Don’ts

There’s good and bad news about negative online reviews.

  • The bad news: Consumers are 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
  • The good news: A few negative reviews can actually make customers trust your reviews more. If a business has no negative reviews, 95 percent of consumers suspect the good reviews are fake or the bad ones have been censored.

 

Consumers have become more sophisticated about reviews, and most can recognize when a reviewer is being irrational. It’s the negative reviews founded in reality that give you a chance to learn from criticism and improve your business.

 

Here's how to deal with bad reviews:

  • Don't ignore them. Reply to a negative review as soon you see it. Reputation management software for small businesses can help you monitor and manage reviews.

  • Do be understanding. Express empathy for the customer’s unhappiness.

  • Don’t discuss it in public. Ask the customer to contact you privately to discuss their concerns. It’s best to talk by phone or in person, as texts and emails are subject to misinterpretation.

  • Do share the happy solution. Once you resolve the matter, ask the customer if they’d be willing to add an update to their original review.

 

Most customers who complain simply want to be heard. Listen, respond, and who knows? You could turn that negative reviewer into a raving fan of your business.

 

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

This series explores some of the most common and difficult challenges faced by small business owners. Part 1 explored how to effectively manage cash flow, and Part 2 laid out steps to find and retain employees.

 

Marketing has always been a challenge for small business owners, but in the “olden days,” marketing methods such as print ads, direct mail and public relations stayed fairly stable. Digital marketing changes constantly, and with so many options for marketing online, many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed.

If this is you, take a deep breath, keep reading, and incorporate these online marketing “essentials” into your marketing plan.

 

Build a Website

It's hard to believe, but as recently as 2017, 29 percent of small businesses did not have a website. If you’re one of them, get moving! There are many providers that offer one-stop services including everything from registering your website domain name and hosting your site to designing, building and maintaining it.

Do you already have a website? Great! Now, make sure it’s:35338495_s.jpg

    • Mobile optimized. The percentage of online searches on mobile devices surpassed the number of searches on desktops back in in 2016, and by 2021, the number of mobile search users is expected to grow to 221 million people.  Make sure your site looks great and works great on all types of smartphones and tablets—not just on computers.
    • Fast. Your customers are impatient folks, and speed is especially important on mobile devices. According to data from DoubleClick, 53 percent of mobile website visits are abandoned because it takes longer than three seconds for the site to load.
    • Optimized for search. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your website appear higher in search results. You can optimize your website for search by researching keywords that prospects are likely to use when searching for your business. Use those keywords throughout the site in text, headlines, product descriptions and “tags” on images and pages.

 

Get the Local Edge

If your business relies on local customers, use these local digital marketing strategies to get more business.

    • Get listed in local search directories.BrightLocal reports 97 percent of consumers searched online for local businesses last year. Google My Business is the most important local search directory (since more than 59 percent of all online searches start on Google), but there are many others, such as Bing, Local.com, Citysearch and Yellow Pages. It’s free to get listed, and having a presence in online directories makes a huge difference in whether prospects find you when they search online.
    • Take advantage of online reviews. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. According to BrightLocal, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Get listed on review sites such as Yelp or Angie's List. Then monitor reviews and quickly respond to any critical ones.
    • Related content: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

Social Presence

Whether you own a B2B or B2C business, whether you sell products or services, and especially if your target customers who are millennials or younger, you need a presence on social media. More than half of small businesses say social media is somewhat or very important to attracting new customers, communicating with existing customers, and marketing to both new and existing customers.

 

Use social media posts to drive customers to take action, such as visiting your website, filling out a form or making a purchase. Want to get attention? According to HubSpot, photos and videos are over 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than text-based content.

 

Related Articles: Social Media Primer: When to Post, How Often and What About, Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

Don’t Forget About…

Email marketing has a median return on investment (ROI )of 122 percent—more than four times the ROI of social media, direct mail or paid search, according to DMA and Demand Metric. Use email to send special offers, newsletters, or updates about your business. Make sure your emails are optimized for mobile devices. If they aren’t, over 80 percent of recipients will delete them.

 

Get Help

Digital marketing is a huge landscape, and I’ve only touched on the basics here. The good news is, there are plenty of places to get expert help with everything from website design to email marketing and local search listings – with plenty of digital tips right here on the Bank of America Small Business Community.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

A trend born of the Great Recession is having a huge effect on retailers—nearly a decade later.

 

“Consumers don’t want to acquire more stuff—they want to do more stuff,” says Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at NPD Group. Consumer spending is shifting from purchasing products to spending on experiences, such as vacationing, eating out or attending concerts.

 

To compete, NPD Group advises, retailers need to create a more exciting shopping experience. Younger shoppers, in particular, seek “experiences” as part of their shopping journeys.

 

How can you improve the experience factor of your store? Here are six ideas.

1. Tune in. Music not only soothes the savage beast; it also gets customers—particularly Gen Z’ers—to spend more time in your store. In fact, according to a report by Fitch, Gen Z considers music an essential sign a store is open. Without music, your store won’t get their attention. But Gen Z consumers aren’t the only people who prefer to listen while they shop: A whopping 84 percent of respondents in The State of Brick & Mortar: 2017 survey say music makes shopping more enjoyable, while 54 percent say they’re more likely to recommend stores that play music to their friends and family.

Learn more about Gen Z: Your Consumer is Changing Again: What You Need to Know About Marketing to Gen Z

 

2. Be touchy. According to Fitch, holding and feeling products before they buy is a key part of the purchasing process for Gen Z shoppers. If you sell consumer electronics, put out floor models for customers to play with. Do you sell cosmetics or gourmet food?  Have plenty of testers and samples on hand. If you sell apparel, accessories or home decor, create lush displays that tempt shoppers to reach out and touch. 54519930_s.jpg

 

3. Get social. Creating and sharing memories is more important to today’s consumers than buying products, according to NPD Group—so make your store a place where it’s easy for shoppers to share their experiences. For example, an Instagram-worthy window display can attract crowds to take selfies. Encourage and incentivize shoppers to take those selfies and tag your business in social media posts; then pick a winner every week and give them a gift card.

 

4. Mix it up. Technology has made shoppers’ attention spans shorter than ever. Just as they expect an ever-changing stream of social media content, younger shoppers expect new stimuli from stores, according to the 10 Trends Millennial Retail report from Kelton. Stop your store from being boring by frequently changing your window displays, moving merchandise around or adding seasonal decor. You can even experiment with “pop-up” stores at other locations.

 

5. Think local. Millennials in the Kelton study would much rather support small, independent local retailers than big chains. Play up your status as a local small business by getting involved in “buy local” initiatives and events in your community. Embrace the local community in your store, too. For example, you could hold a monthly in-store concert where a local band performs while shoppers enjoy a discount. Display local artists’ or photographers’ work on your walls and swap it out every month. (You can even sell the artwork and take a percentage of the price as commission.)

Take your local focus one step further: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

 

6. Get personal. Offer a personal touch by providing friendly guidance to help shoppers make decisions. Have salespeople bring customers accessories to complete an outfit while they’re trying it on, for instance. Start a loyalty program so you can record customers’ purchasing behavior and preferences. This enables you to customize your marketing messages for their specific interests, delivering a more personal experience.

Your Full Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs: The Small Business Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs

 

These 6 ideas will help bring in more traffic and ensure that you’ve optimized your customer’s experience in your store.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to take your marketing efforts up a notch? Good for you. Here are seven changes guaranteed to give you better results in 2018.

 

1. Update your website. Has it been a few years since you revamped your website? Is time on site declining or are conversions dropping? If your website’s not doing what you want it to do, it’s time for an upgrade. Since mobile devices now account for 51.3 percent of internet use, your website needs to be designed with a “mobile-first” approach in order to make the sale. If you’re not a website expert yourself, enlist the help of a pro—this is one area where you shouldn’t skimp.

          Related article: Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

2. Improve your website SEO. The keywords that got traffic last year (or last month) may not work today. Regularly research to see which keywords your target customers use when they look for businesses like yours. Then incorporate those keywords into your website text, meta descriptions, tags and page titles. As voice search tools like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa become more popular, voice search is predicted to soar in the next few years. Get ahead by incorporating natural, spoken-word keyword phrases. Like website design, SEO is another task best handled by an expert. While this will cost you some money, it will save you tons of time.55171740_s.jpg

 

3. Improve your local SEO. If consumers are not finding your local business, a few small tweaks to your local SEO can help. List your business on as many local search directories as you can, including Google My Business, Yelp and any industry-specific or regional directories your customers are likely to use. Be sure your business name, address and phone number (NAP) are listed exactly the same on each directory. Add detailed information to complete your profile on search directories. Finally, update your profile regularly to include new information such as special hours or upcoming promotions—this will help boost your local SEO, too.

Related article: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

4. Maximize the power of online reviews. A whopping 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses this year, and 85 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. Harness the power of your online reviews by actively monitoring them, responding to them, and encouraging customers to leave reviews. Don’t offer rewards for reviews; instead, let customers know which review sites you’re on and make it easy for them to find you.

Related article: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

 

5. Create strong calls to action. Whether it’s a pay-per-click ad, a print ad, or the homepage of your business website, always direct your prospects with a clear call to action. Every marketing piece you create (including every page of your website) should tell customers exactly what you want them to do: “Shop now,” “Call for a consultation today,” or “Sign up.”

 

6. Fine-tune your email marketing efforts. Email is still one of the most effective marketing techniques around—not to mention having great ROI. In 2018, use your email marketing service’s analytics to really focus on what works and what doesn’t. Use A/B testing to discover the most effective offers, subject lines and cadence for your emails. And don’t forget to keep growing that email list.

Related article: The Surprising Impact of Email Marketing and how to Maximize its Effect

 

7. Spring for social media advertising. If you’ve been marketing with social media for a while, you know it’s gotten harder to get noticed organically. To maintain your social profile, you’ll need to invest in social media advertising. (With 79 percent of adult internet users on Facebook and 76 percent of those using it daily, you can’t afford not to.) An easy way to get started: use Promoted Posts on Facebook or Instagram to “boost” your most popular posts.

Related article: The Top Social Media Sites You Should Consider for Advertising

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

When it comes to marketing promotions, timing is everything. Here are some ways the timing of your promotions can boost sales.

 

1.  Seasonal promotions: Some promotions work best when timed to the seasons, such as summer or winter clothing, garden supplies in spring or back-to-school supplies at the end of summer.

 

2.  Holiday promotions: These days, it’s basically an American tradition to hold sales on every major holiday—and most minor ones. It helps to tie your promotions into the holiday themes, such as pizza shops and bakeries discounting pies on National Pi Day (celebrated on March 14 every year). Don’t overlook the “silly” holidays, such as Talk Like a Pirate Day, either.

 

3.  Cyclical promotions: Time promotions to boost sales during typically slow times of the year, such as your off-season. During extremely competitive times of year, you’ll need to increase your promotional efforts. Your customers’ sales cycles matter, too. Complex or costly purchases need a longer promotion time.51977953_s.jpg

 

4.  Event-based promotions: Consider tying promotions into events such as your business’s anniversary, election day, the Olympics or a community event.

 

5.  Last-minute promotions: Always be ready to profit from the unexpected. A sudden cold snap could make promotions on scarves and gloves profitable. Next time there’s an unexpected downpour, set up a display of rain gear at the front of your store. E-commerce businesses can hold flash sales tied to trending events, like an unexpected upset on Monday Night Football.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

6.  Purchase-based promotions: When a customer purchases a new winter coat, offer them a discount on a scarf or gloves to go with it. E-commerce businesses should have related products pop up (at a discount) on the checkout page.

 

7. Repeat customer promotions: Give customers who spent $50 at your business a gift card good for $10 — valid for the following month. This helps ensure a steady stream of customers come back to spend their gift cards.

 

8.  Limited-time promotions: If business is slow, try sending a limited-time offer or discount by text message, or posting it on social media. For example, a restaurant could offer a 2-for-1 lunch special from 11:30 to 1:30 only. Just be sure to use limited-time offers sparingly, or customers may come to rely on them.

 

How to Time It Right

How can you figure out what promotional timing is likely to be most effective? Start by reviewing your past years’ sales and marketing data. When do sales spike or ebb? What promotions work best when?  Do certain kinds of customers buy at specific times?

 

Review your digital marketing and sales analytics. What dates and times of day do your email, social media or mobile marketing messages get the best results? Sending an email promotion at 3 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. could make all the difference.

 

Let customers control the timing of the messages they receive. Instead of sending your subscribers marketing emails once a week, allow subscribers to customize their settings and get messages monthly, weekly or more often.

 

Watch your competitors’ promotions. If every other restaurant in town is offering a Valentine’s Day special, how can you time it differently? How about an order-ahead catered Valentine’s dinner for customers to pick up, or a day-after-Valentine’s Day special for singles?

 

Plan It Out

Create a marketing calendar to plan the best times for specific promotions. Build in time for anything that requires advance planning, such as placing ads or revising your website copy. That way, you won't miss any deadlines or get caught short when the time for a particular promotion is right.

 

Marketing automation software can help you time promotions perfectly by scheduling emails to send automatically when customers take certain actions. Drip, Infusionsoft and Zoho Campaigns are three marketing automation tools to look into.

 

Finally, always include restrictions and deadlines in your time-based marketing materials, so customers will never be taken by surprise.

 

Related Article: How to Start a Loyalty Program Before the Holidays

Related Article: 8 Cash Flow Tips to Season-Proof your Seasonal Business

Related Article: 13 Summer Marketing Ideas to Boost Small Business Sales

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Are you ignoring an obvious way to boost your sales? If you aren’t marketing to existing customers, the answer is yes.

Most small business owners focus their marketing efforts on attracting new customers. Of course, you need to keep a pipeline of new business flowing, but you should never ignore your current customers. Selling more to them is a quick and easy way to grow your business.

Here are my top 10 tips for doing so.

 

1.  Keep your customers happy. Never try to sell more to a customer unless you’re certain they’re completely happy with your business. Conducting customer surveys, engaging with customers on social media, and following up after the sale are all great ways to gauge your customers’ satisfaction.41612078_s.jpg

 

2.   Pinpoint the most profitable customers. Go for the low-hanging fruit by identifying your best, most profitable customers and targeting them first. They’re more likely to trust and buy from you, so it’s a quick way to ramp up sales.

 

3.   Reward loyal customers. How do you feel when a business you’ve patronized for years offers discounts and deals for first-time customers only? Not valued, right? Don't treat your loyal customers like second-class citizens—offer special perks, discounts and rewards just for them. When customers join your official customer loyalty program, you can collect more details about them, enabling you to market to them more effectively.

   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

4.   Stay in touch. Existing customers are already familiar with your business, so you don’t have to build brand awareness — but you do need to stay top of mind. Keep your business on your customers’ radar with email and social media marketing that lets them know about special offers or new products and services.

 

5.   Pay attention. Stay in tune with what customers are saying not just about your business, but also about their needs, on social media. This can give you ideas for how best to approach them. Suppose you notice a customer on LinkedIn is asking questions about selling overseas. Reach out to learn more about their needs and how you can help. 

 

6.  Make it easy to buy from you again. Did a customer buy school uniforms from your e-commerce site last August? Email her in July with special offers and an easy way to reorder the same styles as last year in bigger sizes. Set up auto-renewal programs that customers can opt into — it simplifies their lives and yours.

 

7.   Focus on the customer. Don’t barrage customers with irrelevant emails. Use what you know about your customers to personalize your outreach. Is there a customer who always brings her elderly mother to your restaurant for lunch? Let her know about your early-bird dinner specials or offer her a discount for home delivery for those times Mom isn’t up to going out.

 

8.   Follow up on dormant customers. Don’t let once-loyal customers fade away. Contact customers you haven’t heard from in a while with email or print offers to lure them back.

 

9.   Provide great after-sale service. Some companies put all their efforts into making the sale and then ignore their customers once the money changes hands. Follow up with your customers to make sure they’re satisfied. Ask if there’s anything else you can do for them? Once you know they’re satisfied, try cross-selling ancillary products or services, or upselling them to a more expensive version.

 

10.   Develop a system. Create a process for identifying customer needs, connecting with them, developing offers and suggesting additional products or services. When all your salespeople have a plan to follow, it boosts your chances of selling more.

 

In the end, selling more to your current customers comes down to developing lasting relationships. I’ve had longtime customers contact my business about services I didn’t even offer, simply because they trust our work. When customers know and trust your business, they’re more likely to turn to you first for anything they need.

 

RELATED ARTICLE:  How Good Is Your Customer Service? Here Are 6 Steps to Find Out

RELATED ARTICLE: Understanding Your Ideal Customer

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Start a Loyalty Program Before the Holidays

RELATED ARTICLE: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

RELATED ARTICLE: Why Listening to Social Media Can Grow Your Small Business

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Does your retail business have a loyalty program in place? If not, now is the time to launch one before the holiday shopping season reaches its peak.

A loyalty program can get first-time shoppers to come back again and again for holiday shopping — and long after the gifts are unwrapped. With more traffic in your store, the holiday season is the perfect time to grow your loyalty program membership.

 

Loyalty programs have many benefits for retailers—and are highly popular with customers. According to the 2017 Holiday Retail Outlook, 76 percent of consumers belong to a loyalty/rewards program, and 72 percent say a loyalty program makes them more likely to shop at a specific retailer. Follow these steps to start your loyalty program.

 

    CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

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1.  Know what your customers want. What attracts customers to a loyalty program? According to the Holiday Retail Outlook, these are the most desirable features:

    • Earning rewards for my purchases — 88 percent

    • Receiving special services — 32 percent

    • Ability to use rewards for experiences — 14 percent

    • Having a mobile app to store membership info — 12 percent

    • Being recognized with a higher status — 8 percent

Before choosing a loyalty program, it’s a good idea to survey your customers and see what rewards they want most.

 

2. Make it worth their while. You can handle loyalty rewards in a variety of ways. For example, you can give points redeemable for rewards; give customers cash back on purchases; or offer “tiered” rewards where perks get better the more shoppers spend. You can also mix it up by offering all of the above. Whatever system you choose, at this time of year shoppers should be able to earn meaningful rewards quickly. More than half (59 percent) of consumers use loyalty program rewards to do their holiday shopping, so the faster they can earn rewards, the more shopping they’ll do in your store. (Be sure the rewards are helping, not hurting, your profit margins).

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees Ahead of the Holiday Rush

 

3. Decide what you want. Many retail loyalty programs can also track shopper behavior and help you market to individuals based on their past purchases and other information. What are your goals for the loyalty program? What is your budget? What loyalty/rewards programs do your competitors offer? What kind of data do you want to collect about your customers and how do you want to use it?

 

4. Assess your options. Popular loyalty programs include Belly, FiveStars and Perka. Look for a loyalty program that is tailored for small retailers and meets both your and your customers’ needs. Be sure to ask about setup fees as well as monthly costs. Also take into account how easy the program is to use—both for your employees and your customers. For example, some customers may still prefer loyalty programs that offer plastic loyalty cards, not just mobile apps. Finally, with holiday season rapidly approaching, you’ll need a program you can get up and running fast.

 

5. Spread the word. Aggressive marketing is key to the success of a loyalty program. Promote your program in your holiday advertising, on your website, on social media and with signage in your store. Employees should educate customers about the benefits of the loyalty program and encourage them to sign up. Make it as simple as possible to join the program—no one wants to hold up the whole line of customers while they fill out a lengthy form. As you attract more loyalty program customers, you can even offer them rewards for getting others to sign up or spreading the word on social media.

 

Once the holiday shopping season ends, don’t let your loyalty program marketing lag. Keep signing up new members and creating new rewards. Do it right, and a loyalty program can be the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Your e-commerce website faces stiffer competition every day. Does it have what you need to convince customers to buy? Here are 10 essentials to e-commerce success.

  1. Fast loading: Online shoppers are impatient. More than half (53 percent) of mobile site visits are abandoned if a site takes more than 3 seconds to load, according to a Doubleclick study. Make sure your site loads quickly, not just on desktops but on mobile devices too. Google penalizes sites that load slowly on mobile devices so it will also hurt your search engine results.
  2. Mobile optimized: While shoppers still primarily make purchases on desktop computers, they frequently start shopping on mobile devices.  It’s a good idea to design your site with a mobile-first approach, ensuring that customers can easily take action and get information no matter what type of device they’re using.
  3. Clear navigation: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the layout of your e-commerce site. Sticking with formats that online shoppers are familiar with will help customers accomplish what they need to do quickly. Try having users unfamiliar with your site see how easily they can navigate, shop and check out. This will help you spot confusing areas that need improvement. 46650892_s.jpg
  4. Details, details: The more information you can provide about your products, the better. That means multiple product photos with different angles, the ability to zoom in on details, informative descriptions and videos of the product in use. Be sure to include relevant information such as product dimensions, fabric content, care directions, shipping weight and whether the product needs assembly. Use the manufacturers’ descriptions as a starting point and create your own—to personalize your website copy and differentiate yours from other websites selling the same thing.
  5. Transparency: Never hide key information such as shipping costs or sales taxes. Online shoppers hate getting to the checkout process, only to find you’re charging exorbitant shipping rates. Include a shipping and/or tax calculator that customers can use early in the process to estimate additional costs, or include this information where it's easy to find.                

     

     

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  6. Free shipping:  What makes online shoppers choose one e-commerce website over another? Often, it's free shipping. In a Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 study, nine out of 10 consumers say free shipping is the number-one factor that would make them shop online more often. If possible, offer free shipping—and it doesn’t have to be for everything, just for purchases over a certain amount. You can also use free shipping codes as an enticement to buy.
  7. Good search functionality: If a customer’s search is likely to return hundreds of results, you need a way for customers to sort and filter them. Customers expect sophisticated search functionality so be sure your site provides it.
  8. Trustworthiness: Include a privacy policy explaining how you secure and use customers’ personal and financial data. Prominently display your SSL certificate and any other trust or compliance certifications on your home page and checkout pages.
  9. Simple checkout: In general, three pages is the sweet spot for a checkout process. Streamline checkout for regular customers by asking them to create an account and store their information for future orders. However, don't require customers to create an account in order to buy—this is a big turnoff.
  10. Great customer service: Even when shopping online, consumers want to feel help is close at hand. Offer multiple ways customers can contact you, including phone numbers, email and online chat, as well as an FAQ page. Finally, make sure that your post-sale customer service lives up to its promises. That’s the best way to keep e-commerce shoppers coming back again and again.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE FOUR MOST IMPORTANT DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

In a world where consumers and B2B buyers alike have hundreds of choices available at the tap of a touchscreen, customer service is becoming a key differentiator for businesses. In Microsoft’s most recent State of Global Customer Service Report, 61 percent say customer service is very important; in fact, bad service caused 60 percent to stop doing business from companies in the past.

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

 

How can you provide the kind of customer service that gets customers talking (in a good way) about your business and keeps them coming back? Start by unders

tanding the No. 1 thing your customers want from customer service: convenience.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Convenience likely means different things to different customers. To ensure you’re delivering the convenience your customers want, you need to know their demographics, key concerns and preferred communication methods. However, no matter what target market your business serves, convenient customer service basically boils down to four factors:

 

Speed. Rapid resolution of problems and complaints is crucial to providing customer satisfaction. That starts with responding to them quickly. In the Microsoft survey, for example, 57 percent of consumers say they’re not willing to wait more than five minutes on hold to speak to a customer service rep. Whether you handle customer service via email, phone, chat or some combination of the above, make sure you have adequate support to handle your customer load.

 

Consistency. Today, your customers want to do business with you wherever and whenever they please—online, in pe

rson or over the phone. They expect their experience with your business to be seamless. They don’t like having to repeat the same information they entered online on the phone, or struggle to pick up a package they ordered online in your store. Look for customer relationship management tools that help you maintain information about customers in a central, web-based location so you and your customer service reps can access it wherever you are.

 

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Flexibility. For a 22-year-old, convenience is being able to text a company’s customer service department. For an 82-year-old, texting is the opposite of convenient—he wants to call you and get a live person, not a voicemail menu. To ensure all your customers have a positive opinion of your service, provide a variety of ways for them to contact your customer service team. That might include phone, email, chat, text or even social media. When customers have the option to reach out to you in the way that’s easiest for them—you’re starting the customer service interaction off on the right foot.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: When it Comes to Marketing—Timing is Everything

 

Proactivity. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of consumers in the Microsoft survey have a positive opinion of companies offering proactive customer service notifications. After all, what’s more convenient than having a business take care of customer service issues before they even arise? Provide online training videos, how-to guides, or FAQs on your website to help customers better use your product or service. Create an online knowledge base or user board to help them resolve their own questions. Send customers automatic notifications when products need to be refilled, equipment needs to be serviced, or upgrades are available. Consumers will love it when you do the work for them.

 

Customer service is becoming a more important factor in business success. Fortunately, by providing the convenience customers crave, you can make your business stand out in a positive way.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngWhether your business is B2B or B2C, summer calls for special marketing ideas. With summer fun on customers’ minds, it's a good time to loosen up, get creative with your marketing mix and experiment a little. Here are 13 fun summer marketing ideas to try.

 

Summer events

1. Every community has its share of summer events, whether it's a downtown July 4th celebration, a 10K run or a beachfront craft fair. Find a summer event that resonates with your target market and get your business involved. You can sponsor the event, rent a booth or hand out product samples—whatever works for your business there is likely an opportunity.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Host your own summer event. Customers have more time to socialize in the summer, so invite them to an event at your business (or outdoors, to take advantage of the weather). Keep it fun and entertaining—instead of serious gatherings like workshops for B2B clients, host a happy hour, outdoor dinner at a local restaurant or beach barbecue. A beauty salon could partner with a clothing boutique and host a summer fashion show featuring the hottest hairstyles, makeup trends and outfits.

 

3. Give away tickets to a local summer event. Is your community home to an annual music festival, car show or other popular event? Take advantage of the event's popularity by purchasing some tickets and giving them away in a contest.

 

4. Print calendars that highlight summer events in your town. Target the calendars to your customer base—if your business sells toys or children's clothing, feature fun family events; if you own a personal training business, feature fitness-related events. Whenever your customers check their calendars, they’ll think of your business.

 

Get outside

5. People spend more time outdoors in the summer, so if your business is in a location with lots of foot traffic, use summer-themed posters, banners and window displays to get attention. If your business isn't near a high-traffic area, place outdoor banners advertising your business in parts of town that do get a lot of traffic.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING—TIMING IS EVERYTHING

 

6. Have a sidewalk sale. Join other business owners near your location and organize a sidewalk sale or “taste of” event, for example, where retailers promote sale items outdoors and restaurants sell samples of their signature dishes.

 

7. Take a road trip. A B2B business can go on a “road trip” to visit key customers and share their adventures on social media. A B2C business can go mobile with a cart, booth or display at sports arenas or community events.

 

34737923_s.jpgVacation time

8. Get your customers engaged on social media by holding vacation photo contests. Share your own vacation photos and those of your staff, and ask your customers to share theirs with your business hashtag or contest hashtag.

 

9. Entertain the kids. Summer vacation for kids can mean endless cries of “I’m bored!”. If appropriate for your business, hold classes or workshops for children to learn new skills, such as cooking or crafting, with supplies purchased from your store.

 

10. Target tourists. If your business is near a tourist area, print up brochures and postcards you can place at local visitors’ centers, hotels and other places travelers frequent.

 

Heat up your product mix

11. Plan summer-themed giveaways of seasonal promotional products, such as beach towels, reusable water bottles, portable mini-fans or sunglasses with your company name and logo on them.

 

12. Create summer-only products. Tempt customer with limited-time products. Develop special menu items for your restaurant or fun summer drink specials for your bar.

 

13. Put together summer-only packages. Package products or services to appeal to customers’ summer needs. For example, a beauty salon could offer a pre-beach package: a spray tan and pedicure. A gas station or automotive shop could sell compact first-aid kits for summer road trips.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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